After weeks of fan voting, the NBA All Star starting lineups have been announced.
While names like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant are undoubtedly expected every season, one name for the East has many puzzled. There has been much discussion surrounding Kevin Garnett's inclusion as a starter and whether it is deserving considering his season.
As of today, Garnett is averaging 14.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists, all the while on 50.4 percent shooting. His numbers are solid, especially considering he plays just 29.8 minutes per game. It is his lowest per-game contribution since his rookie year, which leads to questioning his place at All-Star Weekend.
What is more notable is that without the assistance of Rajon Rondo, it is highly doubtful Garnett would have the same level of play.
In games without Rondo, the Celtics are just 2-3 this year. Through the same stretch, Garnett averaged 13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds on 54.1 percent in 29 minutes per contest. It's clear that his skill is not dependent on Rondo's playmaking, but is certainly boosted by it offensively.
However, to be an All-Star requires a certain set of unspoken accolades. That isn't to say KG isn't skilled enough as an individual player but All Stars, especially starters, can generally carry their team when needed. Carlos Boozer, whom many ridicule and point to when Chicago struggles, has stepped up his game not only in Derrick Rose's absence, but through Joakim Noah's struggles this month.
During January, Noah is shooting just 37.9 percent from the floor. This is a steep drop from his seasonal average of 45.9, which isn't all too great for a big man, either. Boozer, on the other hand, is averaging a stellar 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds on 54.9 percent this month. In wins for the season, the Bulls get 17.6 points and 10.4 rebounds on 52.3 percent shooting from the 6'9" power forward. In losses, they struggle as he struggles with 14 points and 9.4 rebounds on just 43.4 percent shooting.
While it's more of a comparison of position and dependence rather than skill level and play style, it is evident Chicago is reliant on Boozer's play to be successful. For Boston, they get 15.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 52.5 percent from Garnett in wins. In their losses, the Big Ticket drops to 14 points, 6.8 rebounds and 48.3 percent.
Garnett's drop off is minuscule in comparison to Boozer's, and the success rate of their respective teams shows it. Boozer has been instrumental in leading Chicago to a 7-2 record for the month, in addition to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference—four seeds ahead of Boston.
While the aforementioned comparison of statistics does not qualify Boozer as a starter for the Eastern All-Star team, it aims to point toward how Garnett does not qualify as well. Each All-Star is heavily relied upon by his team and his peers to perform well and lead them to victories.
Whether you look toward lead vote-getter Kobe Bryant, or assured bench inclusion Chris Bosh, either is relied upon to go out every night and play at a high level. Garnett has performed almost identically in successes and fails for the Celtics, which technically does not omit him from the All-Star team, yet it should.
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